Healthy Eating Habits

Just thinking about some of the habits I’ve developed over the last year or so that have really enabled me to be successful in eating healthier and reducing my calorie intake:

– Stock the freezer with steam-in-the-microwave vegetable side dishes for dinner.
These are ready in about 5 minutes, pack a ton of nutrition, are tasty and very low in calories.

– Stock the freezer with frozen fish.
Preferably the unbreaded or very lightly breaded kind. Keep a variety like salmon, tilapia, cod. Pop these in the oven for around 30 minutes after work, couple with a steamfresh veggie side and you’ve got a filling, nutritious, yummy dinner for 300 calories or less! Take it a step further, skip the tartar sauce and instead keep fresh lemons on hand and squeeze fresh lemon juice onto your fish.

– Stock the fridge with fresh veggies, buy organic & local – they will last longer.
We use a local organic produce delivery service. For the same cost we would spend at the grocer each week, we get a box of fresh, local organic produce delivered to our doorstep. Our box arrives on Friday, I cut everything up on Sunday and by the end of the week the veggies are still fresh!

– Preparation is key!
I spend an hour on Sunday cutting up veggies and storing mixed varieties in tupperware-type bowls to take to work through the week. Pre-portion healthy dip into covered to-go containers as well, I recommend Hommus. Measure out snack crackers like Triscuits into baggies to go as well. Play with the serving size: if 6 crackers is 120 calories but you’d like your snack to be a little less, then only pack 4 or 5 crackers.

– Keep the pantry stocked with low-calorie, nutritious snacks.
Keep a basket full of quick, portable snacks like Kashi soft baked bars or chewy granola bars. Fill the pantry with options that are under 200 calories per snack. Bananas work great for this too. Before they get overly ripe, peel them, cut into pieces and pop them into the freezer in a bag to be used later in protein shakes.

– Keep a variety of low-calorie snacks to suit your tastes at different times.
We subscribe to Nature Box – they ship a box once a month filled with delicious snacks, different stuff each month – and it is all organic or non-gmo, all-natural and yummy!

– Switch to smaller dishes!
Stock your cupboards with 4 oz glasses to easily portion out juice, milk, etc into amounts of fewer calories than a standard 8 oz serving. Use dessert-sized plates for your main entrée. You can take smaller portions and still have the visual sensation of eating a full plate of food.

– Invest in good measuring tools for your kitchen.
You can never have enough measuring cups, stainless steel measuring spoons, and even serving spoons that are 1/2 cup size to help portion control from the pan to the plate.

March 2013 Monthly Fitness Stats

March was a bit of a struggle. Several challenges, but I stayed determine to at least be doing SOMETHING even if I wasn’t able to do as much as I had done in recent months.

Week 1 on vacation (did workout a few times while on our cruise though), week 2 trying to get back on track from being on vacation, week 3 was full-on raging PMS and week 4 was “that” TOM. (I’m on a 3 month controlled cycle so luckily I do not have to work around this issue every month). Although, in review – I did good ramping up a lot of the key points of my workout, really what suffered was frequency – I only got on the treadmill 3 times per week – all month, instead of 4. And I seemed to have completely dropped off the band wagon with the Aero Pilates so my over all week went from 5 days of exercise to 3 for this month. Hopefully April will be better.

We clean up pretty nice, huh!?

We clean up pretty nice, huh!?

I really felt great on that cruise after having lost 20 lbs!! Jim had started working out as well as watching his calories too in the last month or two before we left. He got so thin we had to buy him a new suit!

Treadmill stats:

Speed: 2.0 mph start, increase .2 per minute to NEW max speed of 3.2 mph

Decided to just keep going with that new max speed of 3.2 mph that I started on the cruise.

Duration: 50 minutes

I’ve gotten real consistent now that each treadmill workout is for 50 minutes. I can’t believe just a few months ago I started at 30 minutes and couldn’t even imagine I could do more than that!

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Run intervals: 2-1/2 to 3 minutes

Holy cow, you read that right! I am able to run for 3 minutes at a time!! I do three sets of this throughout my walk. It’s hard but I am very proud of the strides I’ve made in this area!

Incline: 4

Average Burn: 298

Ending weight: 128.6

February 2013 – Last Chance Workout Month

“Last chance workout” month before leaving for our cruise!

We went on an 8 night Caribbean cruise, it was fantastic! We planned all of our excursions to include a lot of walking and calorie-burning activities. And for the first time ever, we used the fitness center on the ship! So while we certainly did indulge in food (and adult beverages) we really kept the damage to a minimum. Most of the time we each gain almost 10 lbs on a week-long cruise. This time I only gained 5 and I think Jim gained 6 lbs. And we were both able to drop those pounds really quick within a week or so after coming home.




February Stats:

Speed: 2.0 mph start, increase .2 per minute to max of 3.0 mph

While working out on the ship I started increasing my max speed to 3.2 mph. This seemed pretty comfortable, so I kept it going the rest of the month.

Duration: 45 – 50 minutes

Started trying to push duration out a little further, the month was a mix of about every other workout between 45 to 50 minutes.

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Frequency: 4 times per week

Run intervals: 2 to 2-1/2 minutes

Had one day on the ship that I just felt so full of energy, I pushed out my run intervals to about 5 minutes and couldn’t believe I could do it!!

Incline: 3 to 4, variable

Aero Pilates: once per week, 30 minutes

Average Burn: 269

Ending Weight: 130 lbs (yay! intermediate goal weight!)
I actually got to this weight right before we left for the cruise. Then I gained 5 lbs while on the cruise, then lost it again within about a week of coming home, so closed out the month at this weight still, yay me!! 🙂

January 2013 Monthly Fitness Stats

Keeping pace with December, kicked a couple of things up a notch like starting speed, run intervals and incline.

Me, my husband (Jim) and our daughter (Cecilia) in January 2013

Me, my husband (Jim) and our daughter (Cecilia) in January 2013

This photo is me and my family in January 2013. Looking a bit thinner here, down about 17 lbs from my most recent “fat” weight – although kind of hard to tell with the bulky winter clothes!

Treadmill stats:

Speed: 1.8 mph starting speed, increase .2 mph per minute to max speed of 3.0 mph

Duration: 45 minutes

Frequency: 4 times per week

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Run intervals: 4.0 mph 2 minute intervals, average 3 sets

Incline: 3

Aero Pilates: once per week, 12 reps of all, duration about 30 minutes

Average Burn: 240

Ending Weight: 133.4 lbs

December 2012 Monthly Fitness Stats

December I was in full swing momentum of embracing my lifestyle change. I had more energy and clothes were starting to fit better, this was good motivation to keep going full steam ahead!

I was, however, worried about the food frenzy that would invariably come with the holidays so I committed to working even harder to offset that.

Indulging in holiday treats like these resulted in gaining 5 lbs over Christmas!

Indulging in holiday treats like these resulted in gaining 5 lbs over Christmas!

Treadmill stats:

Speed: 1.6 mph start, increase .2 per minute until reaching max speed 3.0 mph

Notice a pattern here? Increasing starting speed by just 2/10ths of a mph each month. Still a nice slow start to warm up and avoid injury but slowly conditioning myself to be able to do more, and the faster I start the sooner I reach max speed and the more calories are burned in the end.

Duration: 45 minutes

Building consistency now on 45 minute workouts.

Frequency: 4 times per week

November my base goal was 3 X wk and I attempted 4 times in a couple weeks. This month I committed to 4 times per week, every week including Christmas!

Run intervals: 4 mph for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Incline: 2

That’s right, I said it! Incline! Adding this was critical to moving the needle on my calorie burn without adding more speed or duration (which have been key points leading to injury for me in the past).

Aero Pilates: once per week, 10 reps of all, duration about 25 minutes

Wow I am working out 5 days a week, is this for real? I’m loving it!

Average burn: 224 calories
Ending Weight: 137 lbs

(Proud to be down 3 lbs from November’s ending weight, considering I put on a couple of pounds over Christmas and took them back off, in addition to these 3 lbs!)

November 2012 Monthly Fitness Stats

Coming into 8 weeks of this training and I was starting to feel a bit stronger. Only a small weight change at this point so I didn’t feel or look a lot different physically, but my energy level was increasing and so was my confidence. I implemented several small changes in November.

I did some revamping of my workout studio so my treadmill faces the TV, with just enough space in front for stretching, using my Aero Pilates machine or other floor exercises, and added the giant white board for tracking.



Treadmill stats:

1.4 mph starting speed, increased .2 mph each minute to max of 3.0 mph

Duration: 40 to 45 minutes

Again, gave myself the flexibility to try to go for 45 minutes but the permission to only do 40 if that was all I felt like I could do. I was surprised how comfortable I was with doing 45 minutes!

Weights: 3 sets 12 reps

Increased the reps just a little on the weights, continued with a set after each 10 minute interval of walking. 12 reps of the 11 different exercises takes several minutes to do, it leaves me just enough time to “rest” a bit before starting over. I’ve stuck with this for several months now and not sure when I’ll make changes to this part again. I’m not going for super buff upper body but this helps me burn more calories and has over time provided significant toning to my arms that is very noticeable.

Frequency: 3 to 4 times per week

Hard to push myself to do the 4th workout of the week, this is starting to take over all my free time, lol! But I feel proud, a strong sense of accomplishment to be able to say I worked out 4 times in a week!

Run intervals: 4.0 mph (hey, I’m only 5’2″ tall – – to me, that is a run! ha!)

Added a big new challenge this month: running! ok, jogging. Whatever. My goal was every time I hit a 10 minute mark on my walk I would run for 1 minute. Seemed like the longest minute of my life, but I was able to make it and do it again 2 more times within one walk so I started adding this as a regular part of my walk.

Workout now looks like this: Walk at starting speed, increasing speed slowly until I hit max speed – gives my muscles time to warm up. Do my first set of weights while I am warming up in my speed. Walk at max speed until 9 minutes – then run 1 minute. Follow by second set of weights. “Rest” after weights by walking at max speed until 19 minutes – time for 1 minute run. Follow with 3rd set of weights. Then walk max speed for a few minutes until 29 minutes – one more run interval then begin to slowly cool down and wrap up around 40 or 45 minutes.

I feel like I added a lot this month even though it was just little changes. Starting to feel stronger and noticing my clothes feel just a little better. Down 5 pounds at this point. I should mention it was in this month that I got back to using and started getting serious about logging my food and improving my nutrition. That is probably why I was feeling so much more empowered this month! (Thank you CC!)

I know from previous attempts to lose weight that the ONLY thing that has ever really worked for me is counting calories. It’s basic math, burn more calories than you take in and when the numbers add up to a certain amount you lose weight. So, the only way to make the math work out is to track the numbers.

Ending weight: 140 lbs

October 2012 Monthly Fitness Stats

October rolled around, I was just getting into the swing of building consistency with my workouts but still feeling pretty challenged. As I am prone to injury when I go crazy with exercise, I decided my approach would be very small increases to duration and difficulty over a period of time – giving my body time to become comfortable with those changes before adding more to the program. So my intent became to take a month to develop small changes into habit then work on one or two new small changes the next month and so on and so forth.

Treadmill stats:

1.2 mph starting speed, increased by .2 mph each minute until reaching max speed of 3.0 mph.

Duration: 30-40 minutes

Gave myself the flexibility to go for 40 minutes when I felt like I could do it, and the permission to stop at 30 if I felt like I needed to. I was able to do 40 minutes more often than I thought I would.

Frequency: 3 times per week

Added hand weights while walking. I have small, round, water filled hand weights that are easy to hold while walking. They probably only weigh 1.5 to 2 lbs each. I started with a circuit of 11 different upper body exercises with the weights, doing 10 reps of each exercise. Each time I hit a 10 minute mark I would do a set of these weight exercises (while walking) so I was doing 3 sets of 10 throughout my walk.

Ending weight: 142 lbs

Also in October 2012, I turned 40 (gasp!) Turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought. 🙂